Dad’s first car was a Model T Ford which he had in the 1940’s. It had a button on the floor that you pressed to start the car, rather than a key. He was mechanically inclined and probably enjoyed working on it as much as driving it.
My uncle once told me that sometimes dad’s cousin would borrow his car for his work and then when he had problems with it he would just abandon it where it was. Then dad would have to get over there and fix the car to bring it home. Interestingly when I asked him about that recently, he didn’t remember it at all.
Over the years, dad had many cars, but I don’t distinctly remember most of them. I do remember that in 1955 dad went out and bought a brand new Ford fairlane. That was the year of big fins and two-tone cars. Dad said to mom: “Do you think I should buy a new car?” Mom said no, we can’t afford a new car. So dad went out and bought one anyway. Mom was so angry she wouldn’t talk to him for a week. (He said “It was worth it!” with a large grin.) Mom was first upset because we couldn’t afford it, and second that to save money he didn’t even get a two-toned car, so it didn’t LOOK brand new!
I think dad really loved to drive in the early years when he first had a car. However, after years of commuting in city traffic to work and visit friends, he didn’t enjoy driving as he got older. Even when I was in school, he hated to have to take me to a friend’s house or to school.
One rare evening when dad did agree to drive me to a friends’ house to work on a school project it almost turned into a disaster. I didn’t get good directions or even the house number. Mainly my friend told me the street name and that there was a “yellow porch light” out front. It was said to be the only yellow light on that block. However, when we got near her house, it seemed that all the houses had yellow lights! We didn’t have cell phones back then and just drove around with my father muttering under his breath. Finally we saw a house with a light that may have been a bit more yellow than the others. Perhaps my friend was looking out the door – I don’t remember – but we did find her house! For years afterwards, mom would tease about the house with the yellow light!
After they retired, mom and dad got a camper that they drove all over the country. In addition, they had an automobile but I don’t remember what type it was. After he retired also, dad seemed to drive big cars. All were purchased used except that one Ford fairlane in 1955. By the late 1990’s he had 2 automobiles – one at the house in the north and a second at the mobile home in the south. It had become too difficult to drive south each winter and north again in the spring. Instead each car sat unused for half a year.
Within the past few years, dad finally gave up driving. He didn’t stop as soon as we asked him to as he liked to have the car to go to the grocery store or garage sales. However, eventually he realized that driving was stressful for him. He got confused about where he was and drove very slowly. He drove less and less until he stopped all together. After that mom and dad became dependent on friends and my brother to take them for groceries or out to eat.
Even after giving up his cars though, dad continued to mow the large back yard with his riding lawn mower. He really seemed to enjoy driving around and around on it and spent hours just mowing the back lawn. I got some video of him mowing the lawn and I loved to watch him. He didn’t get confused about where he was on the riding mower since he only used it in his own back yard!
In addition, as I mentioned in an earlier post, dad got a scooter to use when he was at the mobile home in the south. He got the scooter years before he gave up driving and used it for many years after he ceased to drive as well. In fact he only stopped using it because he was not permitted to use it inside his assisted living facility.
Now dad doesn’t have a car or lawn mower or even a scooter. He just has his walker. I take him out to lunch weekly and to his medical appointments. Dad recently wrote a note on his note pad with “Scooter Store” with a phone number. He hasn’t said anything about it and neither have I. I just keep hoping he will forget about it as I know I can hardly get his walker into my car and there is no way to transport a scooter. Also I don’t believe his ALF would allow him to use one because of his dementia.